Recession “Not Over Yet,” Says Local Jobs Expert

ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–With the unemployment rate at 8.3 percent in the St. Louis area, there’s still no large surge of jobs being added to the economy, and that has at least one expert worried about the recovery. 

“It’s still a recession,” said Michael Holmes, the Executive Director of the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment. “We’re not hiring at the level we were three years ago, when we started laying off 800… 900… 2,000… 3,000. We don’t hear we’re hiring back 3,000 people at one time.”

Holmes sees some positive news from employers seeking to add jobs in manufacturing, information technology and even in construction. But Holmes says some of the jobs offered are on a “contract” basis, rather than as a full-time employee with benefits.

Also, even experienced IT workers are finding companies unwilling to hire them and train them in the latest computer programs. Instead, some IT jobs are going overseas to workers skilled in the latest programs.

Which way the job market is going is a subject of acute interest, after steep losses statewide in December. In December, Missouri lost 11,800 jobs — including 5,000 from the St. Louis area alone. The loss left the state with a net gain of only 7,500 jobs for the year.

All eyes will be on the January numbers, which won’t be released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics until mid-March.

Until then, Holmes says his gut tells him there are a lot of people still hurting.

“We know we’ve got over 200,000 ( in the St. Louis area) who are receiving unemployment,” Holmes said, “Then you’ve got folks who just dropped out and said, I’m not even looking anymore.”



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